Politics and Religion are Destroying My Family

5 years ago

This morning, I grieve the loss of my brother. Someone I love fiercely. Someone I believed always had my back and was there for me more times than I can count. Someone I would have done anything for. Instead, it would seem that the hammer of politics and religion packs too strong a punch and the damages left by its blows are proving to be too hard to rebuild. Or at least I think that’s what he thinks. Because I really don’t know. We’ve never discussed it.

Religion can divide us so easily. It can be used to slash and burn foundations. It can shake two people out of a loving hug and plant giant fucking weeds between them. It can ruin everything. I know this. He condemns my church. He doesn’t recognize it as even being a church. This is fine with me. It really is. But not for him. For him it is not fine. Again, I am guessing. We have never discussed it.

And politics are a cruel beast, no? How easily they can cut through years of love and history. Layers of a relationship sliced open and bleeding out during a partisan knife fight. I think. Because see, I don’t know about that either. I’ve never been in a political knife fight with my brother.

Politics and Religion street signs, Image Credit: Shutterstock

I believe that political opinions and stances are to be respected. Not always agreed with, but respected and if that cannot happen then they are to be left at the door during your time together. But not for him. I think. We never discussed it.

This is where I am right now. These are the things I am thinking about. My brother has withdrawn from our relationship because of religion and politics. Because he fears I will attempt to indoctrinate his children, my beloved nieces, with my liberal feminist agenda.

I would never dream of doing that. Who does that? Just as it never occurred to me that he would do that with my kids. I just thought it was universally known that you don’t cross that line with other people’s kids. So I struggled with this last night. It made no sense. He knows I wouldn’t do that. Right? But you know what? Say it with me….we never discussed it.

It feels like someone came and burned my house down while I slept and left a note explaining nothing. I wallowed and cried an eye swelling amount of tears but I never picked up the phone to call him. Because a light bulb went off. I realized that it was more than that. My heart felt as though it was drowning.  I couldn’t catch my breath. The tears that I had cried the night before returned and they were hot. They burned my eyes. I saw it in front of me.

It’s not just politics. It’s not just religion. It’s all of me. He doesn’t want his children to be like me. In any way. In all ways. So this morning I lay down my fight as I was prepared to fight hard to save us. But it is clear to me now that perhaps I am not the only one that should be fighting. Maybe, just maybe we are too far gone. I cannot fight through this hurt. Not yet. Because it is clear that maybe we never had the relationship that I once thought we did.

That is a kick in the teeth.

Our rule was to leave it alone. Knowing we are polar opposites we agreed to not discuss it. But somewhere along the way that stopped working. And now we are here. In this place of total divorce from our relationship. By his choice.

So why am I oversharing?

Because I did it all wrong.  By never talking about it. By biting my tongue  if a topic came up. By believing that it wasn’t worth  it to discuss these things, I fucked everything up.  Because it ruined us anyway. By keeping silent and hushing myself to keep from offending  him, I planted seeds of assumption and speculation.

We were left to imagine what the other was thinking.  And fester.  

And now I have lost a brother without ever having been told. The information came to me second hand. Don’t make the same mistakes I did. Because if you are going to lose a relationship over something as fucktastic as politics at least be up front and honest and able to speak your truth instead of wondering what is brewing inside someone's head. Leave your cards on the table.

I never did that because I was afraid.

One day I will pick up the phone and try. I don’t know when and I hope it isn’t too far away. But if we ever do get the chance to start again it will be with an open mic.  The only way we can be saved is for us both to come clean and hash this shit out. Like grown ups. No more silence. No more tip-toeing. We will have to put on our big kid underwear and have a dialogue.

I hope we can. But I'd be lying if I said that I think we will.


Are politics and religion a hot button issue in your house? How do you maintain a relationship with your political/religious opposite?

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